Every time we turn around there’s a cool new material gaining the attention of producers and consumers alike. Sustainable materials can be found at the top of nearly everyone's list of concerns in a variety of industries. In the midst of the slew of producers and manufacturers searching for alternatives and ingredients for composites, Ford Motors is making a name for itself.
Ford and The Hunt For Sustainable Composites
Ford has been active in researching and incorporating renewable and recycled materials for years now, pursuing a smaller footprint on the earth and a greater impact on positive customer experience. Their 2008 Mustang’s seat cushions incorporated a soy-based foam material, marking the beginning of successful implementation of renewable material research begun in 2000 and continued with rigor ever since. Fast forward to 2016 and everyone in the auto and renewable materials industry is wondering how Ford and Jose Cuervo are building cars from Tequila.
The Agave Plant
Their newest interest has been in agave, the plant from which tequila is made. The production of tequila only requires the liquid drawn from the heart of the agave, which leaves the rest of the plant as waste. Ford is teaming up with Jose Cuervo to put that waste to good use. The tequila company has its own sustainability initiative (it currently sells a small portion of the waste to craftspeople), so it’s happy for the opportunity to collaborate and see more material recycled. Furthermore, the local agave farmers can benefit from the added revenue Ford will bring. Ford is excited at the possibility of creating a bioplastic from the discarded agave fibers: such a material will be light (promoting better fuel economy) and sustainable. The more plant fibers being re-purposed, the fewer being burned or thrown away. The company suggested the new bioplastic could be used for wiring harnesses, storage containers, and other plastic parts both inside and outside their vehicles.
Ford utilizes a number of other renewable materials including wood, recycled cotton, wheat, flax, cellulose, castor oil, kenaf, coconut fiber, and rice hulls. The storage containers that might soon employ agave fibers already contain wheat straw, which reinforces the plastic and reduces the overall weight of the bins. Trunk mats of certain models integrate coconut fiber. The rice hulls popped up in 2014 as an alternative for talc, also proving a good choice for their light weight and renewability. Ford product sustainability manager Carrie Majeske expressed in a statement she made that year, “Fuel economy is a top priority when it comes to Ford's environmental impact…. But we also recognize the tremendous impact that can be made by using sustainable materials inside our cars, utilities and trucks."
The Future of Sustainable Materials
It’s clear that the future of materials is an exciting one, with new ingredients being discovered, new composites being imagined, and new technologies being employed. As the very substance of the things we wear and sit on and use everyday, materials matter! We’re excited to see what Ford and the rest of the forward-thinkers out there will come up with next. As a manufacturer of industrial mixing equipment, it’s our delight to come alongside companies looking to mix up something new.
For more information about Ford’s renewable materials, check out their sustainability report:
For more about agave specifically, watch the video below!